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Blunder Hassle: Port FC 0-2 Buriram Utd Match Report

 

 

Port failed to mark the re-opening of PAT Stadium with a positive result, as individual errors ultimately saw a promising first half display go to waste. We lost 2-0 to a more clinical side who showed more composure when it mattered.

The long-awaited return to the PAT was a subdued affair all-around. Despite some hardened fans queueing at the break of dawn to get the tickets on advanced sale, the restrictions deemed necessary in order to facilitate the re-opening were always going to make for a bit of a matchday mess. Those who were there were subjected to various levels of scrutiny, ranging from the non-existent to the over-zealous, and with refreshments in the stadium itself being completely off the table the fan experience was not one to write home about.

My seat in the Sportsman was not subject to any such restrictions thankfully, and suitably lubricated I thoroughly enjoyed a pretty impressive first half display from an injury-hit Port. The sight of Chappuis (6) in the XI did cause me to raise an eyebrow, but looking at the options available with Tanaboon, Siwakorn and Kannarin not in the squad there was not much I would have done differently.

 

 

There were half-chances for both sides in the first 45, but the best of those were created by Port. Suarez’ (5) delicious chipped pass for Bordin (10) was one slightly better first touch away from a golden chance, but on current form it’s not one I really expected the winger to take. He’s not quite at his confident best yet this year, for me.

 

 

Bonilla (9) was next to miscue, with a weak shot not forcing Sirawak (1) to break a sweat. The referee called a foul on Bonilla anyway, for applying his arm to the defender’s face. Classic Nelson. Roller got himself in to a very promising shooting situation a few minutes later, but his effort was similarly straight at the keeper, who once again collected comfortably.

Further half chances for Bonilla and Roller went by without that moment of quality to give Port the goal their first half performance probably deserved. But you have to show quality in the final third, and we weren’t quite able to do that.

A few minutes in to the second half Port finally created a goal. For the opposition. Supachok’s (19) hopeful ball in to the box should have been dealt with decisively by Nitipong (34), but with the ball coming in at a slightly uncomfortable height, he opted to use his chest, sending the ball up rather than away. Dolah (4) almost rescued him with a superb block from the resulting chance, but the ball came back out to Supachai (9) who struck an unstoppable shot with his left foot. Great finish, terrible defending.

Supachai, Supachok and poor defending were not done with us yet, though. Just a few minutes later, Supachai released Supachok down the left, and the young winger turned Rochela (22) inside out before getting a pretty poorly struck shot off. It was on target, though, and that’s all it had to be. Capable of brilliant moments, Worawut (36) between the Port sticks is equally capable of hideous errors, and this was one of them. It should have been a routine stop, and we should have still been in the game, with everything to play for.

 

 

Then came the petulance. Reeling from the self-inflicted 2 goal deficit and ticked off by some unbecoming Buriram antics, we started to lose our heads. Substitute Sansern (69) showed why he wasn’t given the opportunity to start in central midfield with a ridiculous kick out at Rosa which earned him a yellow. His wild shot from outside the box a few minutes later was unfortunately even less well-directed.  To be fair, Chappuis (who Sansern replaced) put an even more wildly off target effort in to Zone D in the first half.

 

 

Suarez was next in line to put the finishing touch on Port’s self-destruction from an off-the-ball incident. Chitipat (14) instigated whatever disagreement there was, but crucially the Buriram defender didn’t cross the line in to red card territory. He was on the wind-up and willing to take a yellow because he thought he could probably get Suarez on tilt. It wouldn’t be the first time he’s tried that against us, either. On this occasion he pushed his head in to Suarez’ face and Suarez gave him the most pathetic slap you’ve ever seen. If you’re going to get sent off at least lay him out, Serg. He clearly didn’t watch Fury and Wilder the other day. VAR checked the incident, and inevitably Suarez was given his marching orders. Scandalously, Chitipat got off scott free. Game over.

There’s not much point talking about the last 20 or so minutes. We were a man down and we’d lost our heads, and we were never getting back in to the game. Buriram went in to full game-management mode, with all the associated trolling. Delightful. The final whistle couldn’t come soon enough.

 

The Sandpit’s Man of the Match

 

 

Dolah had a decent game, repeatedly making Rosa uncomfortable with forceful challenges. On a day where no one in blue and orange put in a performance of note, Dolah was probably the best of the bunch for me.

 


 

All in all, a missed opportunity. This seems to be a season that any of the top teams could grab by the scruff of the neck and run away with. There is no outstanding team this year, and once again we haven’t stepped up to the plate and put our name at the front of the queue. Expect more good performances, more promising wins and then the inevitable heart-breaking loss. It’s what we do, and this year doesn’t seem to be any different. Still, at least fans are back… kind of. That’s something.

Hang in there everyone, we’ll be back to experiencing bitter disappointment with beer and buddies before too long!

 

Time to Climb the Table – The World Is Not Enough: Chiangmai Utd 0-2 Port FC

 

After a ‘Slum vs Scum’ derby, you could almost excuse the few people who found our round 6 fixture against new boys Chiangmai United a bit anti-climactic. Not much is known about the team from up north, but what’s been shown so far this season: it’s been up and down. You’ve got to give them credit for the way that they’ve recruited for their first season in T1, and although they haven’t picked up as many points as they might’ve hoped, it hasn’t been catastrophic from them either.

If there’s something that I can compliment all of the teams that were promoted from T2 for, it’s that they’ve not gone down the path that Rayong took: they’ve gone out and signed some good players. Almost every foreign player on the books of the promoted clubs MOONWALKS into the Rayong side from last season, so at least there’s been a jump in the quality of the promoted sides. It’s almost as if they’re learning from the mistakes others have made: who’d have thought that!

For Port, we came into the game having to make [at least] two changes to the squad, due to the injuries sustained by Tanaboon and Kannarin in the derby. I wish the both of them a speedy recovery, and it was nice to see the starting 11 make the following gesture to Kannarin in the picture below. Coming into the starting-11 were Worawut Baresi [#24] and Jaturapat [#15], with Tanaboon [#17] going out of the squad altogether, and Nitipong [#34] dropping to the bench. Taking Kannarin’s place on the bench was Elias Dolah [#4], who hadn’t been a part of the past two matchday squads. It was a welcome return in one way, but it’s now up to the Thai international to force his way back into the starting-11, and show the ability that made him a much loved figure on the terraces, and go on to earn a place in the national team set-up. Simply put: his performances haven’t been up to scratch for a while.

 

 

Fast Starts: A View to Kill

We’ve shown time and time again this season that we’re able to hit the ground running from the offset, though the fact is that our opposition [typically] get the first opportunity of the match. That wasn’t the case today, and with just 2:02 on the clock we nearly took the lead. What a start that would’ve been!

A long, diagonal ball was [inexplicably] allowed to bounce by the Chiangmai United defender, with Roller [#33] getting onto the ball, and breezing by the fullback. I have a feeling that it was Muangthong loanee Saharat that was out there on the wing with him, though the available camera angles couldn’t confirm whether it was or wasn’t him. If it wasn’t: my apologies, Saharat. Regardless, Roller had breezed by, and his delivery into the 18-yard box was pretty damn good. Suarez was rushing into the ball to attack it, and usually when he’s left unmarked to attack the ball the ball is in the back of the net moments later.

It wasn’t to be this time around for the Spaniard, but it was a great bit of play from all of the Port players involved. I’ve no doubt that the next time things play out in the same way: Suarez will be running off to celebrate with his teammates.

 

 

The next goalscoring opportunity for us came after a horrible collision between former Port stalwart Tossapol [#6] and Brazilian defender Evson [#30], with Nelson Bonilla [#9] attempting to latch onto the loose ball and go one-on-one with the Chiangmai United goalkeeper. To his credit, Nont Muangngam [#20] got off his line quickly, and got the ball away from danger. The whistle was quickly blown so that both Tossapol and Evson could receive medical treatment, with the Brazilian definitely the player that came out of the collision worse off. If either player is reading this: best wishes in your recovery. It’s never a nice sight to see someone suffer a serious head injury, and if I don’t see another one this season I’d be quite a lot happier. Tossapol was [somehow] able to continue playing on, but Evson was replaced by Sirisak Faidong [#15] on the 22-minute mark.

The next effort [and I’m not sure you can call it that!] that we had on goal was with 25:00 on the clock, with Pakorn taking a set-piece that certainly wasn’t a cross, but it wasn’t much of a shot either. Some… “interesting”… goalkeeping from Nont saw the ball go out for a corner, though we weren’t able to do anything from the resulting corner. We were [clearly] in the ascendancy, though at the same time we really didn’t look like scoring either. It was quite weird to watch if I’m honest, but I still had faith that we’d find a breakthrough. The lads were cutting through the Chiangmai United players like they weren’t even there at times, but at the end of the day you have to put your chances away to get the 3-points.

With 29:26 played, we did have an effort on goal, though the linesman flagged a bit too quickly in my opinion. There’s no doubt that Bonilla was offside in the lead-up play; he was, by at least 2-3 yards. The thing is, by the time the cross was played in, it looked like he MIGHT have gotten himself back onside, and had a headed attempt cleared off the line. Imagine if we had technology, like VAR for instance, that could go back and disallow the goal if he was actually offside!? The goal-line clearance had only gotten as far as Go [#8], only for the whistle to be blown due to the linesman’s flag. It was all a bit of a mess to be honest, and this was a case where VAR might’ve been useful.

Having said that: the implementation of VAR in Thailand has been a catastrophe, and it probably would’ve taken them 8-10 minutes to come to a decision… but only after watching 329 replays. For what it’s worth, having watched it a few times, I think the right decision was made, I just think the decision was made somewhat prematurely due to the fact that Bonilla had been in an offside position in the lead-up play.

Regardless, the clearance from Tossapol had been a good bit of play from him, and if he could save good performances for anyone but us, that’d be much appreciated!

 

 

It took until the 31-minute mark for our hosts to get a strike off on goal, with Saharat having an effort that would’ve earned applause in a rugby game as a successful conversion attempt. Minutes later, Chiangmai United were back at it, with a through ball from Escudero [#26] giving Melvin de Leeuw [#9] an opportunity. He did quite well to hit the target with his half volley, and even though it was fairly straightforward for Worawut [#36] to save: he still made a bit of a meal of it. Worawut seemed to have something to say to the match officials, but I’m not quite sure why.

The game had lacked controversy, much like the derby had, but that all changed just before the 37-minute mark, when an out-swinging corner from Pakorn [#7] made its way into the box. The ball had glanced off the head of either Suarez or a defender, with it then making its way towards Baresi. It’s pretty damn obvious that the Chiangmai United defender has a handful of Baresi’s jersey, and anywhere else on the pitch, it’s a freekick. So why isn’t it a penalty? What makes it worse [for me] is the fact that he’s not even trying to track the player he’s supposed to be marking, he’s just holding on for dear life instead. Minutes later we had yet another VARcical decision from a T1 match official.

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the match officials just aren’t up to standard in Thailand, and it had [yet again] been shown a night earlier in the Khonkaen United-Nakhon Ratchasima game. VAR had been correctly used to give a red card against a Khonkaen United player, but it had made a mistake in disallowing a goal from Ibson Melo in the first-half. If anyone knows the reason that goal was disallowed, please drop a comment on The Sandpit tweet where this is published.

The shirt pull in this game should’ve been a penalty, and was yet another example of why VAR is a pointless tool to have when the people tasked with using it don’t know how to use it properly.

 

 

There’d been 6-minutes in added time for the first-half, due to the injury to Evson, and the VAR farce, with it allowing us a final effort on goal. Jaturapat had received the ball from Go, crossed from deep, with Suarez attacking it. He got a bit fortunate with the ‘pinball’ that went on, which saw him receive the ball in a great position. Korrakot [#77] did a magnificent job to deflect the Spanish maestros effort for a corner, and he’d certainly atoned for his mistake in the seconds leading up to the half volley. Suarez was frustrated to have not scored: Korrakot looked like he’d just found a new source of energy!

It meant we went into the half-time interval at nil-all, and I was certainly intrigued by what our second-half game plan would be.

 

 

An Attacking Second-Half? Die Another Day!

I’ve commented a few times in previous reports that I’ve felt a little underwhelmed by our second-half performances in the attacking-third so far this season, so the one benefit of going into the interval at nil-all was that we’d HAVE to attack in the second-half. A point away to Chiangmai United wouldn’t be an acceptable result in the slightest, but it’d be such a Port thing to do: a great result against the Scum, followed by dropping points to the league new boys.

The first attack of the second-half belonged to our hosts, with them breaking forward whilst the referee waved for an advantage, due to their being a shirt pull. I thought pulling your opponents shirt was okay!? Anyway, the ball ended up at the feet of Jaturapat, who had an absolute ‘mare with his clearance, with the ball finding itself at the feet of Saharat. The effort from the man on-loan from Muangthong was pretty damn awful, and I’ll admit that it made me chuckle for a bit. I think it ended up halfway between the post and the corner flag, and he won’t be watching the replay too fondly in the match review meeting with his teammates.

Our hosts were most certainly in the ascendancy during the start of the second-half, and they had a few good moments in the 10-minutes after the second-half had kicked off. Ultimately: their efforts were for nothing. There was plenty of effort and energy, but without Yannick Boli in the line-up: they looked a bit lost. From what I watched, a simple 4-4-2 would be perfect for Chiangmai United, because a duo of Yannick Boli and Melvin de Leeuw is going to find you the goals to win games. They had 3 or 4 chances to take the lead against us in the opening 15-minutes of the second-half, and if you don’t take your chances, picking up points becomes a hell of a lot harder.

 

 

Whilst I wasn’t too pleased that it took us over 15-minutes to carve out our first proper attack of the second-half, I was quite pleased with the way that we’d handled the pressure that Chiangmai United had been putting on us, and you could sense that we were picking our moment to land the first blow.

An outside of the right-foot pass from Suarez had found Bonilla, and my goodness was his first touch horrendous! He burned his defender for pace quite easily, but the odds were heavily stacked in Nont’s favour to make the save, and although Bonilla got to the ball first, he was never looking likely to score this time around. It was a missed opportunity, and it was a truly poor first-touch from our star striker.

It was the final warning that we would give our hosts.

Just minutes later we took the lead. A cross-field pass from Bordin was expertly controlled by Pakorn [that’s how you do it Nelson!], with the midfield monk in acres of space. The Chiangmai defender [Sirisak] moved across to close him down, but he was nowhere near tight enough to be effective in killing off the danger. Pakorn played a lovely low cross in, and Nelson ran straight onto it: unmarked! He had no qualms in smashing the ball into the back of the net, before making his way towards Pakorn, who’d made yet another magnificent assist. It was a great piece of play from Bordin, Pakorn, and Bonilla, and I couldn’t help but think “I hope we push on for a few more!” to myself.

 

 

The goal had sparked us into life, and a few minutes later we were back at it. Bonilla got his first touch right this time around, after receiving a lovely ball from Siwakorn [#16], and went through towards goal. The defender marking him forced him a bit wide, and rather than being selfish he laid the ball off for Jaturapat to run onto. Jaturapat took a shot, rather than taking another touch, with Nont getting quite a strong palm to it. I thought Pakorn did quite well to get the ball under control again, with him laying it off for Go to have a strike on goal. There was plenty of power on the strike, but it lacked direction, and rocketed towards the running track.

We were well and truly in the mood now, and minutes later: we scored one of the best goals scored in the league so far this season. If any other club had scored it, it’d be all over social media, and people would be losing their minds. It was a thing of absolute beauty!

Bordin picked up the ball in his half [around the left-wingback area of the pitch], and played the ball forward to Suarez. Suarez, sensing that there was an over-zealous fullback headed his way, played a first-time ball to Bonilla, who completed the ‘one-two’ to Suarez: who’d continued his progress forward. This is the part of the pitch where the Spanish maestro is so damn good, because he sucked in another Chiangmai United defender, before playing a perfectly weighted ball for Bordin to run onto. Bordin was gliding down the left-side of the pitch, and rather than trying to do too much: he played a first-time cutback towards the penalty spot.

Who was there? Go! The Korean central-midfielder kept his composure, and thrashed the ball into the back of the net, to double our lead. I could watch this goal on a continuous loop; it was fantastic. It’s the kind of goal that you show a young kid when you’re talking about how important off-the-ball movement is, and every Port player involved in this sequence of play should take a bow.

 

 

After the goal had gone in, our hosts used their second substitution window, with Surawich Logarwit [#16] replacing Khapfa Boonmatoon [#54], who’d been booked in the first-half, and Kittipat Wongsombat [#8] replacing Boworn Tapla [#32]. A minute later: Saharat was booked, in what had been quite a miserable night for him. Things just hadn’t clicked for him, and he doesn’t look anything like the player that had been so dangerous for PTT Rayong. Maybe a move to Korat to reunite with Teerasak Po-on might do him some good?

We were dealt an injury scare around the 77-minute mark, with Baresi having to be withdrawn, with the towering Elias Dolah [#4] taking his place on the pitch. Since the mess that occurred on the opening day of the season, our defensive unit has looked quite good, and it’s of little surprise that we’ve not been coughing up too many goals. I’ll admit to being a bit nervous about Dolah coming on, but I was hopeful that he’d be the Dolah that we all know and love.

Minutes later we had another dangerous attack! I was loving that we were attacking so much in the second-half, and a pass down the line from Roller to Pakorn had the midfield monk weighing up his options. He played a smart pass inside to Bordin, who took a touch, and lashed an effort at goal. Nont parried the shot quite well, and having both scored already: both Bonilla and Go got in each others way! Bonilla took control of the ball, played a pass to Bordin, who did a bit of a song and dance: trying to get himself in enough space for another effort on goal. He played the ball back out to Pakorn, who seemed a bit indecisive this time around, with his cross not dangerous at all.

A minute later our hosts nearly halved the deficit! My god it was heart in mouth stuff. A corner that wasn’t defended well saw a header from Tossapol [I think] hit the post, Sirisak Faidong then hitting the crossbar with his rebound. It was a complete lapse of concentration from the lads, and we very nearly made the final few minutes of the game an end-to-end battle. Thankfully we cleared the ball, and preserved our cleansheet. A ‘get out of jail free’ card had been used by us, and it was now up to Dusit to reorganize the troops, and make sure that it didn’t happen again.

Both teams then made their final substitutions for the night, with Chiangmai United bringing on Phongsakon Seerot [#14] and Kantapong Bandasak [#11] on for Sergio Escudero [#26] and Saharat Kanyarot [#18]. I honestly don’t think much of Escudero: he gives off Gorka vibes for me. That being said: Gorka produced a hell of a lot more during his time in Thai football, and I can’t see Escudero being able to get the same amount of goals or assists as the lumpy Spaniard.

Meanwhile, the substitutions we made were: Charyl Chappuis [#6] and Tanasith Siripala [#11] replacing Siwakorn [#16] and Bordin [#10]. Both Siwakorn and Bordin had played well, and could take their place on the bench knowing that they’d both played a strong part in us getting the 3-points.

There was still enough time for a bit of “controversy” to take place, with an incisive breakaway from Bonilla, Chappuis, and Tanasith seeing us have a potentially dangerous moment in front of goal. It was a perfectly weighted ball from Bonilla to Chappuis, with the midfielder having a… not so good first-touch. It almost killed the odds of him having an effort on goal, and with him trying to make up for his mistake: he somewhat launched himself at the ball. He kept a hold of it, before having a strike on goal that was deflected out for a corner by a defender.

Next minute: VAR check! What I’ll say on it is this: it was touch and go. Could he have been given a red card? Possibly. Do I think he should’ve? No. The problem for Artit Daosawang [#92] wasn’t the contact from Chappuis, it was the way that he’d launched himself to try and make the defensive block. He was trying to contort his body in multiple different directions, and it’s no wonder he came out of it feeling worse for wear! There was definitely contact, and it’s a moment that Chappuis will learn from no doubt. With that being said, and how awful VAR is in the Thai League, I wouldn’t have been surprised at all if they’d sent him off.

Thankfully, common sense prevailed. The full-time whistle was blown not long after, and the lads could begin their trek back to Khlong Toei with the 3-points in the bag! Well done!

 

 

My Thoughts – Chiangmai United

Chiangmai United tried hard, and they’re not exactly a bad side, but they’re not a good side either. We haven’t played Nongbua Pitchaya just yet, but of the 3 sides that have come up this season this is the side that I’m least impressed by so far this season. Whilst I understand that they were missing Boli, who’d destroyed Samut Prakan City just 5-days earlier, the defensive unit wasn’t quite the same once Evson went off, whilst their midfield undoubtedly lacks any real quality. Escudero isn’t good enough to be able to drag them out of a mess; I’ve seen tumbleweeds move faster than him, and that’s without any wind. This side appears to be destined to go back down, and what did they do when they were promoted? They hired a coach that seems to specialize in getting teams relegated!

They’ve got big decisions to make in the next transfer window, and I’d be very surprised to see either the head coach or Escudero last the whole season at the club. I hope that Evson isn’t seriously injured, and wish him a speedy recovery, as the longer he’s out: the more trouble his club is in.

 

My Thoughts – Port FC

This was our first proper 90-minute performance of the season. In the 5 games prior, we seemed to have been good in the first-half, only to be a lot more cautious/reserved in the second-half. That certainly wasn’t the case tonight, and it was extremely pleasing to watch.

The lads that had come into the starting-11 had justified their selection, and I thought that Jaturapat was fantastic in his return. He was someone that I considered for the ‘Man of the Match’ award below, and he was quite unlucky to miss out in my opinion. I thought this was quite possibly our best defensive performance of the season, albeit we were up against a newly promoted side, but it was pleasing that we didn’t allow complacency to creep in, like it might’ve in seasons gone by. Defensively, we looked quite well organized, bar the blip late in the game from that corner. I hope that Baresi’s injury isn’t serious, because if we can have the same back-4 start for the next game against Buriram: I’d be very happy with that.

Our midfield was quite tremendous too, as was the attacking trio of Pakorn-Bonilla-Bordin, and if it’s possible to name an unchanged line-up next time out, we should do it. It appears that certain players have shaken off any rust that was in their games, and I thought that Go had his best game for the club in a long while. He ran the show at times, which was great to see considering he’s been quite lacklustre at times in the games previous. There was a bit more urgency to his game, and I’m hopeful that we’ll continue to this standard of performance from now on. There’s no doubting that when he’s on-form he’s one of the best AFC quota players in the league. The big question is: at 35-years old, can he do it frequently?

Buriram United is our next game, with it to be played at PAT Stadium on Sunday at 7pm. Will fans be allowed? Your guess is as good as mine. I’m hopeful that they will be, and if we can try to create a bit of a raucous atmosphere for them to come into I think we stand a chance. On our day, we’re just as good as anyone in this league, and with Bonilla regularly finding the back of the net, we’ve currently got the ‘Golden Boot’ capable striker that we thought we were getting when we first brought him to the club.

There’s a lot to be pleased with at the moment, and don’t forget, if you’re not able to watch the game at PAT Stadium on Sunday, you can always watch the game at The Sportsman!

 

Man of the Match – David Rochela

 

 

I think that I’ve made my opinion on Rochela quite clear since I began writing for the site, but the one thing that I’ve always said is that he’s a proper professional, and I have a lot of respect him for everything that he’s done for the club. Do I think that he’s the type of defender that will help us challenge for a top-2 finish? No, I don’t. But there’s no way that you can’t admire him for the way that he’s navigated through his 6-season spell at the club. There are plenty of players/agents that would’ve thrown their toys out of the pram in some of the instances, but Rochela just knuckled down and kept going about his business. He’s a great ambassador for the club, and although I do think that we will need to move on from him in the near future, I’m quite content to have him remain for the time being.

Getting back to his actual performance now, he didn’t put a foot wrong in the game. He’s been very consistent so far this season, and although he’s had a few ‘iffy’ moments: they’ve been a bit less frequent too. I think that he must be such a calming influence for his defensive partner, and I actually think that Baresi and Tanaboon are much more suited to playing alongside him than Dolah is. Only Buriram United, BG Pathum United [both 4], Nongbua Pitchaya, and Ratchaburi [both 5] have conceded less goals than us so far this season, though BG Pathum United have the benefit of having played 2 less games at the moment, whilst Nongbua and Ratchaburi have both only played 5 fixtures.

Dusit appears to have sorted our defensive frailties that we seem to show every season, and Rochela has shown fine form during the start of the reign of his new manager. Keep it up!

 

(The Day After) Boxing Day Massacre – Samut Prakan Dons 6 -3 Port

 

There is a tendency when teams at the top of the table lose to less fancied opposition for the reporting to focus on the failures of the title chasers and ignore the efforts of the victor. Well, strap in because this report won’t be breaking with tradition. This was a defeat purely of Port’s own making.

Having gone over two months without conceding a league goal from open play, yesterday was the day that everything went wrong. As 5 goals were gifted from open play alongside one of the most needless penalties seen in a long time. A total implosion, the kind of thing that could easily be summed up with a one word match report, it’s just hard to know which expletive to use. All that tactical awareness, planning, shape, maturity stuff you’ve been hearing about under Oud, simply disappeared. This was very much a worst of Port performance. There were spells where a pass was as likely appear intended for an opponent as a player in yellow.

 

Bonilla sums up the prevailing mood

 

There was a sense of déjà vu to the game as Port:

“….concede 2 goals in the first 10 minutes…… and generally play without any cohesive game plan. The absence of Dolah from the back four spoke volumes…….”

The quote is taken from the report of our trip to Samut Prakan last season. The difference was this was much worse. Firstly we got ourselves two down quicker, as 4 minutes in Jaroensak (11) collected the ball out wide, he’d already beaten Kevin (23) once and this time the fullback couldn’t get close enough to impede his cross which was swung over to the far post where all 5ft 9 ½ inches of Teeraphol (19) was able to head home. Tanaboon (71) is neither in the right area to clear or picking up the player. Its not a great header and Worawut (36) should really do better than to just palm it into the side netting.  The second, 2 minutes later is scored by Jaroensak, as he finds himself with acres of space on the edge of the box and unleashes a thunder bolt shot into the top corner. Its one of those goals, you can argue Kevin should have given him less space and that more often than not they go into orbit but when they come off it’s a goal of the season contender.

So with a two goal cushion the tone of the game was established, the Dons could sit back and hit on the break. Jaroensak was giving Kevin a torrid time. Port would have more of the ball (60% possession) but often appeared toothless, while the dangerous opportunity count would be somewhat more heavily stacked in favour of the hosts. Yet, after 20 minutes a lifeline was offered as Pakorn (7), stretching for his own miss control, challenges Suphanan (4) and the ball hits the defenders arm. As with Worawut (24) vs. Ratchaburi, it really would be better if this wasn’t a penalty but the (current bad) rule is clear and there really shouldn’t be the prolonged VAR review. Here, the narrative deviates from last season as Suarez (5), just shy of 4 minutes after the incident occurs puts the penalty away to give Port hope, if they can start playing to their ability they might get back into the game.

 

That face you pull when your new team concede 6.

 

A theory sadly dispelled by the defence who, if they started the game looking hungover, spent the latter part of the half looking like they’d used the VAR review to down shots of sherry. That’s one way to make the game interesting. Not to be outdone, Siwakorn (16 units and counting) then gives away a penalty as Yuto (23) collected Tanaboon’s clearance (or more a pass to the opposition) and the deity of the sandpit, takes what appears to be a drunkard tumble into the back of the Japanese player just inside the box. After a 2 minute VAR review, the only reasons l can guess that it took more than 15 seconds were A) the VAR team were in on the drinking game or B) like everyone else they needed a few looks to try and figure out what Siwakorn thought he was attempting (I still don’t have a clue and I’m into double digit views). 3-1. Things weren’t so bad at the other end as Bonilla (99) headed an opportunity a little too well into the ground and it sailed over the bar. Then midway through the 2 minutes stoppage time, because with over 6 minutes of time lost to VAR alone, 2 minutes is the logical amount of time to add on, Pakorn sends a good cross in for Adisak (9) to head home. 3-2. Hope springs eternal and all that, if Oud just bashes some heads and breaks out the black coffee maybe we can still nick something from this car crash.

Except things really don’t get any better in the second half. After 55 minutes there’s more shambolic defending before the ball is laid off for Suphanan, who’s tame shot l’d back myself to save, even after a few bottles of Baileys, Worawut somehow manages to dive over the ball and it rolls into the bottom corner to re-establish the two goal cushion. Which last 15 minutes, in which time Adisak manages to fluff a one on one before Patiwat (1) and Aris (27) decide to join in with the gift giving or maybe just found Ports sherry stash from the first half and present Bonilla the ball a couple of yards out, who can’t fail to score.

So 4-3, time for a famous come back that will be spoken about for years and glosses over the substandard performance. Not a chance, Port have Boli (94) (who must wonder what he’s signed up to) and Tanasith (11) on for Pakorn and Siwakorn and go all gung ho. A little too gung ho, as the move the sums the game up leads to a Dons fifth, Tanaboon stands on the ball before playing it to Bonilla who’s back heel isn’t within 10ft of a Port player. A couple of quick passes reveal that Port have pushed everyone at least 15 yards into the attacking half and Jaroensak, finding himself well clear of the defence, flies into the Port area before squaring the ball to Tardeli (37) who scores. Aris then adds the sixth with a textbook headed corner, you’d hope Santa or another Nordic type might have stopped him had they been on the field, but neither were.

Thankfully it was over. 6-3, and frankly enough to drive you to drink.

Any lingering hopes of a title challenge are all but gone, with Port now 10 points behind BG with a game in hand: away to Chiangrai on the 5th January (assuming all their players remember their kit, don’t have doctors notes about ingrowing toenails etc). Even with a win its hard to imagine a 7 point gap being made up.

 

Man of the Match

Adisak. A tough choice, given how bad it was. However the goal machine gets it, not because he scored but for one moment, after 67 minutes Samut Prakan were again breaking through the lines and there was one player determinedly tracking the ball carrier deep into our half before putting a big challenge. I expected to see Go’s number 8 shirt when the tackler rose but instead it was Adisak. When all was going to the dogs around him, 4-2 down, the striker was still there giving 100%. On a grim evening, it was about as good as it got for Port.

 

Goalscorer, tackler, trier.

 

The Good New Normal: Port FC 2-0 Muangthong

 

Derby Day – or ‘Slum vs. Scum’ as it is lovingly referred to by The Sandpit, needs no introduction. Port fans’ most anticipated fixture on the Thai football calendar has been kind to us in recent seasons, and this year was to prove no different! As with many things in the COVID era, this time around it had a strangely subdued feel leading up to kickoff and during the game itself, with a usually packed-to-the-rafters PAT Stadium and its famed fiery atmosphere quashed by the current 50% capacity restrictions. From the outset it was never going to match last year’s experience (shoutout to Josimar for that wonderful goal and the celebration that will be etched in the memory of every Port fan that was there) but this is still *the* game that means the most.

Despite the somewhat different circumstances the match report could essentially read as the standard Port-MTU game checklist of recent years: Plenty of kicking and fouling from both sets of players – tick. Plenty of abuse from the Port fans to the Muangthong players, especially heckling the goalkeeper Van Lam – tick. Port score (Adisak (9), 31st min) – tick. Port score again (Bonilla (99), 86th min) – tick. The team and Klongtoey Army jubilant – tick. Another win over the old enemy – tick. So instead of some wordy recap, when “WE WON!! 2-0!! AGAINST MUANGTHONG!!” is pretty much all that matters right now, here are some matchday photos instead…

 

Bangkok’s finest prematch

 

Suarez dishing out the pain on a night of hurt for Muangthong.

 

He’s one of our own

 

Bonilla with a piledriver and this year’s entry for The Josimar Award for best goal picture v Muangthong.

 

The finest marksman in the league.

 

That derby winning feeling.

 

And the classic we won the derby scoreboard pic

Pictures Allie Suwanrumpha(@endresultphoto) Captions The Sandpit.

Man of the Match

With a well-fought team performance across the park it is honestly difficult to pick out any individuals,  so I’ll opt for the entire defensive unit this time as they were all solid throughout (and how about that one-handed save near the end from Worawut!) Special mention to our central midfield generals Go and Siwakorn who both put in a shift and constantly pressed Muangthong high up the field which effectively stifled their play.

 

Port End 10 Years of Hurt, Turning the Sandpit in to a Moshpit

 

What a result!

Indulge me if you will as I attempt to see through the fog of beers and cheers and try to remember what was a truly enjoyable once upon a (life)-time experience.

If memory serves me correctly, an evenly balanced relatively non-eventful first half sparked into life around the 30 minute mark as Port began to exploit ‘Tongs weakness on the left-side of their midfield and defense. 4 clear cut chances came and went as Port peppered coaches’ favourite ‘danger area’ in and around the apex of the six yard box. (More of this later.)

As is always the case, first touch football tore ‘Tongs defence to shreds time and again only for Port to graciously fail to take advantage, the worst culprit being Josimar who came on as a replacement for Pakorn who got all carried away with the occasion and uncharacteristically tracked back, injuring himself in the process. Admittedly playing out of position on the right side of midfield, somehow the Brazilian striker contrived to scoop a ‘sitter’ over the bar when passing the ball into an empty net seemed the easier option. Cue hands in heads all round and seeds were sown in the back of Port minds that, ‘please god it’s not going to be one of those nights is it?” sprouted around the stadium as half-time arrived with Port in the ascendancy but profligate and still level.

 

 

All the half-time chat was whether Port could maintain their dominance or would ‘Tong, having surely been on the end of a rocket from their management team during the break, come out guns-a-blazing determined to make Port pay for their generosity.

Ten, or was it twelve, or fifteen beer-befuddled minutes into the second half and Port and Josimar finally made amends and sent the sell-out crowd into paroxysms of delirium as a flowing one-touch move (funny how that works eh?) down ‘Tongs right this time ended with an overlapping Suarez pulling the ball back into the perfect place at the apex of the near six-yard box for Sumanya to gleefully pass-smash the ball into the net at the keepers near post. Cue pandemonium in the stands and on the touchline as even the owner, un-missable in her fetching candy-striped pants, joined in the players’ celebration and relief.

 

 

Could they do it?

A brief period of Port ascendancy ensued as they sought the second killer goal, but soon they were visibly tiring, especially Sumanya who had also clearly decided that having scored he could now spend the rest of the game showboating and basking in the glory of his goal.

As Port retreated closer and closer to their own goal allowing ‘Tong to push on dominating possession and territory, supporters hearts crept closer and closer to their mouths. Would they hang on or would ‘Tong fashion a largely undeserved equalizer?

A couple of astute substitutions allowed Port to start threatening on the break and in turn the defence grew in stature, confidence and self-belief as time and again different Port players stepped up to the plate and snuffed out ‘Tongs attacks before they could develop into truly heart-stopping chances.

As the 90th minute approached Port swept forward on the counter-attack and just when it looked like a fast-flowing one-touch move (yet again) had ended with Port losing the ball, the impressively hard-working Josimar nipped in at the perfect time at the edge of the penalty area to calmly curl the ball past an unsighted keeper into the inside of the same near post as the first goal and round off of a truly splendid copy-book counter-attack.

 

 

Krakatoa couldn’t have competed with the eruption from the stands as older fans suffered pulled groins and tweaked hamstrings celebrating the second sweet goal of the game which guaranteed a thoroughly deserved victory and meant the 3 minutes of added time were simply 3 minutes of singing and basking in the glory of a first home win against the hated ‘Tong in 10 years as well as becoming a prelude to several hours of post-match moshing, quaffing and even talking pleasantly to plain-clothesed farang ‘Tong fans who’d had the balls to brave the potentially hostile Port terraces only to witness their team handed a comprehensive footballing lesson and a thoroughly comprehensive defeat.

Yes friends this was one of ‘those’ games, one of those ‘you should have been there’ nights. One that will live long in the memories of those 8,000 or so fortunate fans who went mental from minute one to minute 90 and beyond. Well, for those that can remember it of course.  I think I was there, wasn’t I?

Until the next time.

Now, bring on Bangkok United!

 

Wasps Extinct: Port FC 5-0 Prachuap FC

 

Challenge accepted.

Port put in the performance of the season so far to denudate 2nd place Prachuap and send Port – for the time being at least – to the top of the T1 table. Port’s play was paradisiac at times, with the all too earthly Prachuap defence unable to keep control of the chimerical Bodin, the domineering Go and the messianic Arthit. It was a display that had it all: prodigious goalkeeping, tenacious defending, sagacious midfield play and implacable finishing. It also capped an anaspectic week for Port, who will now be phrasmotic at the prospect of the upcoming break, after which they will look to cause their compunctuous rivals across town the most severe of pericombobulations.

N.B some of the above words may or may not be real.

Challenge failed.

On to the action though, and despite the eventually decisive scoreline, Port were having a tough time breaking down Prachuap’s defence for the majority of the first half. Bodin (10) wowed the crowd within the first 90 seconds, trapping a long diagonal ball from Dolah (4) with an outrageous one touch control, but his cross could only find the goalkeeper. A Dolah header from a Kevin (97) corner was the next close shave, with Orahovac (22) just about doing enough to put the big man off. In the 40th minute, Port finally broke through. A mazy Pakorn (7) run was halted by the Prachuap rearguard, but Port kept possession before Go (8) found a precise through ball to Bodin who, in a show of confidence we likely would not have seen last season, wasted no time in drilling a low shot in to the bottom corner with his weaker left foot. He’s absolutely on fire this season, playing with a poise and nonchalance that really brings something different to the team.

While the Port faithful, expecting a hard-fought game, would have been happy to go in at half time a goal to the good, the players had different ideas. Their opponents were under the cosh, and now was the time to punish them. Just three minutes later it was another smooth first touch from Bodin which started the attack. The Fresh Prince played in to Boskovic (23) who, with his back to goal, played a perfectly disguised and weighted pass to the marauding Kevin who showed excellent composure to side-foot home from close range. Right, phew. 2-0 at half time it is.

Wrong!

With most of the PAT faithful exhausted from celebrating their quick-fire brace and the clock winding down, bodies started to file out of the stadium and towards the Leo hawkers, but it was the wrong time to Go! Pakorn’s outswinging corner was allowed to bounce in the area, where it fell invitingly to just the right man. Go has shown an eye for goal and, more importantly, a technical ability which is unmatched by Port’s other midfielders. His left-footed volley absolutely flew off his boot, practically decapitating the Prachuap defender who bravely put his head between it and the back of the net, and to just about everyone’s disbelief, it was 3-0 before half time.

Port started to slow things down a little after the break. On the hour mark Bodin and Kevin once again combined down the left to create a chance for Boskovic, but unfortunately the Monenegrin was the only man in Port colours misfiring on the night. His left footed shot was the first of a few which were hopelessly misguided. No matter, we’re up 3-0!

Five minutes later you’d better make that 4-0. Pakorn originally showed little interest in a freekick which looked a little out of his range. He’d walloped on in to the Loxley car park from a similar distance in the first half, but with Suarez having placed the ball and readied himself for the strike, the Midfield Monk trotted over and whispered something to Suarez which I think was something along the lines of “I’m going to whack it really hard. Watch this.” Whack it he did, and Matheus Alves (7) in the Prachuap wall wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. He performed a similar function that Go did last week, blocking the goalie’s view and getting out the way to allow Pakorn’s freekick to sail in to the bottom corner unimpeded. Cheers, fella. Goal of the night, and Pakorn’s third from dead balls in three games. Is it too soon to say I told you so?

You may have noticed my lack of commentary on Prachuap’s chances up until now. Well, it’s not my fault they didn’t create any. Watchara could have put his feet up and finished off Dom’s large coke and it wouldn’t have made the slightest bit of difference. Sandwiched between two more Boskovic mishits they did finally have a chance from a freekick, but Caion (10) headed wide. Relax and pick up your drink Watchara, the excitement’s over.

Jadet wasn’t done with us yet, though. After both Kevin and Pakorn were stretchered off (we would suggest they might be injured, but we all know that’s almost certainly not true) he brought on Panpanpong (19) and Arthit (29), and the two cousins, who combined for Port’s fourth against Trat, soon repeated the trick for Port’s fifth. Panpanpong did his best Kevin impression, galloping down the left flank and sticking his cross right on to the boot of a grateful Pele, who sidefooted home from point blank range. That’s 3 goals now for Port’s only real striker, who still hasn’t started a game yet this season. With Bosko unable to hit a barn door and Pele knocking them in from all over the place, Jadet needs his head examining if he doesn’t give the crowd favourite the chance from the start that he has earned many times over.

 

 

Pele wasn’t done entertaining us yet, though. He burst through the middle, beating the offside trap and with only the goalkeeper in his way he hit a comically poor lob which barely made it to the goalkeeper. Todsapol then outdid his teammate for miss of the game, somehow not finding the target with a free header smack in front of the goal from 8 yards out.

The final whistle soon followed, with Port fans still a little disoriented. Yes, we played well on Wednesday, but that performance was something else. The quality was just oozing from all over the place. I could list the players who had a good game, but here’s the full lineup instead. It’s more or less the same.

 

 

The Sandpit’s Man of the Match

 

 

In a performance like this you’d think there would be some competition, but there isn’t. Bodin has been on another level these last couple of games, with his fluid, serene skills bamboozling opposition defenders, while the fresh prince has also regularly managed to convert his fancy footwork in to goals and assists. Arthit again made my night with his late goal, Pakorn overcame a poor start to once again make a telling contribution or two and Kevin is looking absolutely deadly coming forward at the moment.

 

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before: Port FC 1-1 Chainat Hornbill

 

 

Football returned to the PAT Stadium after a month of intense, thrilling international footballing achievement thumb twiddling, with Port welcoming arguably our second most hated team, the Hornbills of Chainat. Regulars on the away terraces and this fine website might remember the away fixture earlier this season which resulted in a barrage of boos and harassment at the final whistle. At the time it felt like the lowest point of our season. Hoping this would serve as a constant reminder, and after the dismal showing at Prachuap, our boys needed to show some mettle. Another important factor was Police’s 4 goal capitulation to The Scum the night before, so a win was a must to keep up with the pace. 

Errr yeah, so about that “win”… Jadet chose to stick with the team from Wednesday’s defeat and in the opening exchanges Port played some neat football with Pakorn (7), carrying a little extra timber after a month of R&R, confounding his critics and sending a dangerous cross over to Boskovic (23) who couldn’t control his header. Then after 20 minutes Kevin darted to the byline and pulled back to Boskovic only for him to be crudely bundled over by Chatchon (6). Hands were raised appealing for a penalty but the ball quickly spilled to Suarez whose shot was blocked and it seemed as if the penalty appeal had been forgotten about. The crowd, sensing injustice, started chanting “VAR, VAR” and the referee, clearly thinking about leaving the stadium upright, duly obliged and consulted the gogglebox before awarding the penalty.

Now, when Dragan asserted himself and took the ball from captain Rochela’s (22) hands, you had to be impressed with the confidence of the man; his talent hasn’t shone as brightly as we had expected this season but his endeavour so far in the match had been commendable. The penalty that he attempted was somewhere between a “Tana” and a “Chakrit”; a lazy, half-assed failure of a faint that keeper Kritchana (1) saw straight through followed by a shot so tame even a corpse could have saved it. Chainat were now sensing an upset and duly upped their game with some smart wide play; Chatchai (15) sending in a dangerous low cross across goal for Dolah (4) to clear and then bollock Nurul (31) for failing to track back. Then another cross into the box saw Worawut (36) come off his line only to misjudge the flight and allow Diouf (20) to cushion his header over to Doumbia (11) who scrambled the ball into the net, then wheeled off to celebrate in front of The Pink Rangers (who are welcome to visit us anytime at the PAT Stadium). 

 

That sinking feeling

 

So 1-0 down when we should be 1-0 up and Jadet was forced to shuffle the pack with Nurul coming off, presumably injured, at half time. What followed was an inept, shapeless 35 minutes of hustle and bustle with no end product. Boskovic decided to play in several positions – anywhere apart from centre forward – with little success, and Suarez and Kim decided to be the front 2 because playing 2 midfielders up front makes perfect sense. Pakorn, Nitipong (34) and Kevin (97) all tried to make something happen but nothing seemed to work, that is until the arrival of everyone’s favourite carthorse Arthit Boodjinda (29). Suarez dinked the ball towards the Chainat goal and Arthit fouled the defender made a nuisance of himself as Kritchana smacked the clearance into Parinya (13), leaving the way clear for Arthit to foul the defender again stroke the ball into an empty net. Chainat were clearly incensed after getting shafted by VAR in the first half so decided to complain until the referee gave into his desire to not visit the hospital straight after the match and consulted the television again. Port fans waited nervously, so while we wait let’s have 3 fun football facts about our dynamic second choice centre forward: 

 

3 Fun Football Facts about Arthit Boodjinda 

  1. “Arthit” is Thai for “Heskey”.
  2. Arthit pulls up his shorts so he can be 42.7% more aerodynamic.     
  3. Pele recently said this about Arthit: “He reminds me of a young, more elegant version of myself; the raw exuberance of youth coupled with the burning desire to win at all costs.”

 

After what seemed an eternity the referee gave Port the goal, and to be honest that was that; a few more attacks and crosses with no result and then it was back to The Sandpit for Leo, drums and flares. A draw seemed like a fair result especially as it feels like our team still hasn’t turned up since their enforced break and the regular failings are still present. Our team shape is a mess once substitutions are made and it’s clear that the communication from the bench to the pitch is not working and several players are having to suss out what to do with varying degrees of success. It’s too much of the same errors shown week in week out with no solution in sight. 

Young Pele

 

Next up is our trickiest fixture of the remaining matches of this campaign: a midweek clash in Chiang Rai. If we play anything like our last two matches we will be on the receiving end of a sound thrashing but knowing Port we could just make a few people eat their words. The players need to realise that there is still a lot to play for and our season petering out is not an option; there is still the longshot of AFC Champions League qualification, the highest points total achieved in the top division and, most importantly, the opportunity to finish above those scumbags from Legoland.  

 

The Sandpit Man of the Match – Elias Dolah 

 

 

In a game that will be filed under ‘meh’ it was never going to be an offensive player claiming the plaudits. I’ve recently started tending to give this award to players who show heart rather than skill but Dolah’s performance was a solid combination of both, rarely putting a foot wrong and also reminding his teammates of their responsibilities on the pitch (something we have been sorely missing). Credit should also go to Nitipong, Kevin and goalscorer Arthit for their work but sadly too many players didn’t give the same amount of effort required to get the 3 points.

 

Walking on Broken Glass: Port FC 3-2 Bangkok Glass

 

“It’s a funny old game, Saint” Jimmy Greaves would opine to his co-presenter Ian St. John in almost every show of their longing running football programme “Saint & Greavsie” during the 1980s and early 90s on British TV. Saint would flash one of his trademark grins and with a light chuckle concur “Sure is Greavsie, sure is.” This classic exchange got me thinking during Port’s match with Bangkok Glass; here I am standing on the terraces of PAT Stadium in Bangkok watching a feisty and chaotic football match while thinking about obscure 80s television and another football match being played thousands of kilometres away in Russia.

 

 

Every 4 years we are blessed to experience what is essentially a second Christmas with the family bollocks replaced with glorious football, and in the midst of this the Thai football season is in full swing. So with a vibrant Port enjoying a thrilling season and England kicking off later, the pre-match atmosphere was especially enthusiastic. The news of Bodin (10) replacing the banned Boskovic (23)  greeted well and there was very little concern about our bogey team opposition who are going through an tortuous season in the relegation zone.

 

Credit: Nig Dammusig

 

Port started brightly and Pakorn (7), realising that Glass are a bottom half team this season, decided to go on the offensive and terrorise his markers from the off. In the fourth minute Suarez (5) sent over a great cross and Bodin forced a sharp save from Narit (1). Glass resorted to some crunching tackles to break up our play and cling onto the game but it was only a matter of time until the next chance. Kim (8), much better in an advanced role, dinked the ball wide to Kevin (97) and forced Narit to come off his line. Kevin expertly squared the ball to Nurul (31) but his shot was not fierce enough and Glass captain Matt Smith (4) calmly headed to ball back to Narit. A lucky escape.

Then confusion reigned, with the referee using VAR to award Port a penalty for handball off a Pakorn freekick. Chalermsak (3) was the culprit, with his arm raised to around head when he made the block. He saw yellow, but Rochela (22) stepped up and crashed the spot kick against the post. Port, to their credit, didn’t let their heads drop and continued to work hard. Their tenacity was rewarded in the 26th minute. Bodin, receiving the ball from Kevin, powered across his marker and unleashed a speculative low shot towards the bottom left hand corner. Narit got himself behind the ball but inexplicably allowed it to pass through him and into the net. Bodin respectfully didn’t break out the Fresh Prince moves against his former club, but he must have been delighted to have doubled his tally for the season!

 

 

As if the match wasn’t chaotic enough already, it then descended into farce in the final 5 minutes of the half. Nurul, played clean through on goal by Suarez, was clattered by Chalermsak, who received his second yellow and the following free kick lead to an unmarked Suarez slotting the ball into the net only for it to be unfairly ruled out for offside. Suarez, raging from this injustice, insisted the ref check with VAR but even after consulting the television and viewing a clearly onside goal he decided to stand by the linesman’s decision. Several farang fans, clearly dismayed by this and with the lure of England kicking off in 20 minutes, decided to vote with their feet and bugger off. Justice was finally served seconds later in first half injury time; Bodin seemed to have over-complicated his running into the box, but the ball broke loose and a lucky flick from Kim found Nurul, who made no mistake from a few yards out.

 

 

As is customary, your intrepid reporter missed Glass’ comeback goal at the start of the second half, too busy enjoying his halftime Leo (this season’s total currently stands at 8 goals missed). Glass moved the ball forward quickly and Ariel Rodriguez (7) took advantage of Port’s lack of concentration, making his way into the box and squaring the ball to Anon (27) who couldn’t miss from just outside the 6 yard box. These slips in concentration are something that needs to be worked on during training (as does my drinking speed) as more teams are becoming aware of how fragile we can be from the restart.

Port then edged closer to victory with a pearler of a free kick from Suarez over a less-than-10-yard wall into the top right hand of the goal in front of the Zone B faithful. El Mago is clearly brimming with confidence, ignoring Pakorn to sweep the ball into the net, after which the Midfield Monk had a quiet word with with captain Rochela. We can only speculate as to what as said! The second half continued to be a scrappy affair, punctuated with some hard work from Todsapol (6) and Kevin. Nurul kept making a nuisance of himself but it was obvious Bodin was struggling with his fitness, and Glass tried to take advantage of our fatigue and lack of shape. Their second goal in the 67th minute was scored with ease; Pichit (19) with time and space sent a cross into the box and new signing David Bala (10) sent a header into the bottom corner. Rattanai (17) slipped while trying to readjust his body shape but Bala’s header was too good to keep out.

Jadet sensibly sent on Dolah (4) and Arthit (19) to add some steel in the back line and up front, but Arthit wasted a glorious opportunity in the 80th minute, justifying his non-selection to the starting line up. Port continued fighting up to the final whistle and held on to the three precious points. By now the English contingent was buzzing with news that the Three Lions were 5-0 up and, with the inaugural Rat Bar Dash cancelled due to lack of facilities, we then embarked on a Wacky Races style race to The Sportsman (sponsors of this fine match report, folks). Sadly my car was more Slag Brother’s Boulder Mobile than Peter Perfect’s Turbo Terrific but we managed to make it for the final 20 minutes.

 

The author makes his way to The Sportsman

 

So what to make of Port’s performance? It was workmanlike and full of endeavour, but the goals conceded were terribly sloppy and the opposition should have been played off the park in the first half. Nevertheless, to Port’s credit they hung on and the improbable dream continues. Jadet clearly favours skill over power but in the second half several of our team were suffering from fatigue and this, plus the concentration issues, needs to be addressed swiftly. Also, while VAR may be effective at the world cup finals with an elite team of officials in a TV room with multiple screens and all the technology available at their fingertips, the Thai equivalent is clearly not working and as the level of officiating is still dire I can’t see this being a success anytime soon. Anyway, let’s not worry about this and instead bask in a glory of a wonderful day of football and the joyfulness of sleep deprivation and hangovers at work.

 

Man of the Match: Kevin Deeromram

 

 

In an ugly encounter punctuated with brief moments of skill it would be unfair to give the award to the attackers, although Nurul gave the Glass defenders a torrid evening and almost nicked the award. Honourable mentions must go to Nitipong (34), Siwakorn (16) and Kim but they all faded as their legs became leaden. Kevin’s workrate and quality has been questionable over the last few months but his performance against Glass was of the highest order and one of the main factors in getting his team over the line.

 

Port Pluck Three Points from the Eagles: Port FC 1-0 Ubon UMT

 

 

After Port’s glass was shattered by the Rabbits last week the faithful were hoping for a decisive win in this week’s match against Ubon to cement our case as contenders.

With health scares for all three first team keepers, it was great to see Worawut (36) starting with Rattanai (17) in reserve. One surprise in the lineup saw Athibordee (35) lineup at center back next to Rochela (22). With Wuttichai (8) out injured and Yossawat (32) on loan, Piyachart (99) was the only ex-Portman in the Ubon lineup.

 

Game Summary

 

From the opening whistle Port were the aggressors, with Ubon managing very little possession. The Ubon keeper was tested early with Kim (8) ripping a shot at him 3 minutes into the game. Soon after Bole (23) fired a great cross that was just a bit too far for Suarez (5) to reach. Within a few minutes we had our first use of VAR at PAT where a play was reviewed for might have been a possible handball offense. [Ed – someone in Zone B suggested that a Suarez elbow was under review, but we’re not sure either.] After about a minute of review time the crowd began to get a bit restless. Guess they share Tim Russell’s view of VAR! And after the delay… nothing happened and the game resumed.

Port’s dominance continued with Ubon conceding a few corners, one coming when the Ubon Keeper flubbed a kick that was intended to give possession back to them after one of the first of many feigned injuries. The rest of the first half was more of the same; Port dominating possession, taking it wide, attempting a cross, and coming away with nothing.

Ubon’s one opportunity came at the 40 min mark when Worawut was forced to make a save from an on-target Aguinaldo (9) header off a Piyachart free kick.

The second half started with more of the same with the addition of endless time wasting due to “cramps” and other assorted “injuries.” For Port it was again possession, cross, miss and corner, miss. At 70 min Bodin (10) replaced Bole and immediately created a chance, which was of course again missed. Two more subs were made before injury time, Panpanpong (19) for Kevin (97) and Arthit (29) for Nurul (31). With the 5, minutes, which could have been 10 with all the Ubon “injuries,” of injury time running out Arthit electrified the home crowd with an on-target header into the top left corner of the net off a Pakorn (7) corner. The joy and relief among the PAT faithful was immense.

 

 

My Observations

 

Athibordee was a pleasant surprise at center back. A midfielder by trade, he was drafted this week to try and shore up a rather shaky back line and he did quite a nice job.

Ubon were abominable. As our resident Rottingham Crotchspur supporter Tim Walker observed, Ubon started wasting time from the 27th minute. Faking injuries, enough cramps to reanimate Lux Interior, the keeper delaying the kick, etc., etc. And to add to it, we allowed them to do it by kicking the ball out of bounds when one of their players went down. I am still flabbergasted that teams choose to kick the ball out of bounds before the ref blows the whistle. I really think if teams stopped doing this we’d see less of these incidents that occur all too much in Thai football. Port were not totally innocent as Nurul and Suarez each had a few dives during the match. Nurul goes to ground way to easily and would do far better staying on his feet, especially in the box. No wonder so many potential local fans shun the league in favor of the EPL. Watching a poor English side park the bus for 90 min is preferable to the mess we saw at PAT.

A win is a win. We’ll take it. Good teams win or draw when they don’t play well. But in this case, well, we kind of did play well, but were unable to capitalize on our many opportunities, which was a replay of last week’s second half. In all honesty the Port offense is very predictable; take the ball outside, cross it, try to score. Lather, rinse, repeat. And just a few matches into the season, I am sure other teams know our style and are prepared as Ubon was to defend against it. We are winning, but it is our superior talent that is carrying us, not our teamwork or our game plan. We can ride this only so far as we saw last week. We should have been up 2-0 at the half this week and scored another two against this very poor side in the second half, but instead we were left waiting for the miracle that occurred in the last minute, which truthfully is not a very convincing way to play and does not inspire confidence. For a talented squad, creativity is very low and I really don’t see that changing under the current regime. We’re a good team in a league with lots of mediocre teams. We can stake out a high finish on talent and individual effort alone, but if we want to get to the top, we’re going to have to play a different brand of football; one that we have never seen from a Port side. One that the top teams play. After watching two of those teams, BU and Buriram play each other Saturday night, I think Port have a ways to go before we can really consider ourselves contenders for the throne.

 

Port FC Man of the Match

 

 

Man of the match should go to the player who made the difference in the game, and that could only be one player, Arthit Boodjinda, the only Portman who was able to hit the target against a dismal Ubon side. It was a very good header.

 

Song of the Match

 

From The Cramps!

 

 

Three is the Magic Number: Port FC 3-2 Ratchaburi FC

 

Saturday 24th February saw Port in a strange scenario. What’s the scenario? Top of the league and two wins from two games. We all know two games into a season you can’t tell that much about a team, but more important than the two wins has been the style of the victories. Port have fought and looked good in both matches. PAT all too often a field of screams is turning into some sort of Klong Toei gangsta’s paradise for Jadet’s geto boys.

The immediate pre-match talk was about the absence of Kim Sung Hwan (8). When I heard the news, I was definitely thinking oh shit I’ll be missing you, and our midfield will be missing you too. Against Muangthong, Kim showed he can marshal the midfield and give Siwakorn (16) the freedom to distribute the ball and sett up Port’s attacking moves like a grandmaster of Chessboxin’. So the team news saw Port’s first knock back of the day. Fitting on a day that was to see Port switch from Jim’s high enthusiasm to Hockers’ high anxiety every other minute.

I thought we might see a defensive Ratchaburi tie up Port and try a Whodini escape from PAT with a point. So I was shocked by the frenetic pace of the first five minutes. Port were impressive, but Ratchaburi were raising their game as they were out to impress. They were all well aware that their new coach was in the stands and everyone was trying stake a claim for their spot in the team. The first shock came with the first shot from Ratchaburi. It came on 12 seconds with the ball being blasted into a defender. Ratchaburi had come here to play. 25 seconds later Nitipong (34) was scythed down by Satsanapong (35). The ref chose not to go for a yellow and waved away the Port protest delegation. This terrible decision set the tone for the game and saw 10 minutes of players thinking “Well if he’s not going to give a yellow for that, what will he give a yellow for?” Tackles flew in like it was the wild wild west and each player pushed the definition of the phrase ‘shocking yet legitimate tackle’.

Unfortunately the number 1 chief shocka of the first 10 minutes was Suarez (5). After being fouled by Sami (3) he seemed to slap the hand of the referee away. Was Suarez trying to point something out to the referee with his hand and just ended up hitting him by mistake? Or was he saying, I’m gonna knock you out? This could be seen as a mistake, or assault. With this ref no one was sure which way he would go. The only thing to come Suarez’s way was a rebuke and an audible sigh of relief reverberated around me in Zone B. As the game unfolded, most fans would see a gentle slap of the arm as scant punishment for a refereeing performance that could generously be called erratic and honestly be called slapworthy.

On 6 minutes Rosima Amancio (90) who goes by the name of “Bill” showed Port he has a few South American skills, even if his nickname is more South London. An interesting character with moves as smooth and deadly as Bushwick Bill’s rhymes, but in sporting terms his physique was more mid 70’s snooker legend Bill Werbeniuk. His jinking run was desperately blocked by Dolah (4) hitting him high and Rochela (22) hitting him low. The run set off more alarm bells in the Port defence, with some thinking maybe we could just shoot em up. I’m sure the ref would only give a yellow for that today.

Port and Ratchburi both continued creating and missing chances: Boskovic (23) scooped the ball high into Zone D and Ratchaburi hit a shot straight at Worawut (36). Finally about 10 minutes in the number 16 clattered into a player and he went flying into the air. To the surprise of everyone it was the Ratchaburi  number 16 Gionata Verzura that managed to get his name in the book first, with waiflike Siwakorn being the one upended. Role reversal for Siwakorn who has been a lot more careful with his fouling in 2018: Kim is a good influence on him.

Port’s best early chance came on ’13 with a Pakorn (7) free kick drifted in to Suarez (5). He trapped and turned sweetly to beat the keeper, but not the post. 3 minutes later Pakorn would hit the woodwork again with a trademark inswinging corner that swung too much too soon.

Hitting back, Philip Roller (33) drew a spectacularly exaggerated, yet still needed save from Worawut. The following corner was put over the bar and another shot from a corner was blasted wide of Port’s goal soon after. Port might rue their chances going astray, but they could be equally happy Ratchaburi were squandering their chances too. The attacking right back vs. attacking left back, Kevin (97) vs Roller, was a one of the mini battles going on all over the pitch that made this game so fascinating, the two young players sniping at each other for 90 minutes.

The game saw another one-two punch of missed chances with Menezes (20) putting the ball over the bar and Boskovic having a one on one with the keeper. He tried to drill it in, but only found the keeper’s outstretched leg. Next it was the ever industrious Nurul (31) having a go. Rather than the keeper Nurul managed to hit Siwakorn’s head and the crowd wondered how on earth this game was still 0-0.

On ’35 Kang Soo-il (10) went for a theatrical dive trying to get hardworking Adisorn (13) booked. When a yellow card didn’t come he cupped his ear and asked Zone C for a bit more noise. I’m sure Kang grew sick of the constant booing that followed him around for the next hour. You asked for it Kang, so you got.

Two more Port free kicks resulted in nothing and it felt like this half didn’t want a goal. Then an exquisite move saw Bill (90) tap the ball with the outside of his boot, dissecting 3 Port defenders on the edge of the box. Then a sweet back heel from Chuitpol (7) to cue up Pathomchai (31), and he slotted it into the bottom corner past Worawut. At least it was a great goal that spoiled Port’s 220-minute clean sheet.

Speaking of exquisite goals, after a ricocheting free kick fell to Chutipol (7) I’m sure he thought all was well with the world, and he would just hoof the ball away. Not so when you have Ninja Nurul next to you. Nurul picked Chutipol’s left pocket and tapped him on the right shoulder, and before Chutipol knew which way to turn Nurul was guiding that ball into the far corner. As the keeper fell to the ground Nurul was completing his celebration somersault, handing out notes to novice ninjas, stamping fans tickets as they left for half time and posting Ask Nurul Ninja videos on Youtube. This little man can do everything. It’s great to see Nurul putting in an early claim for goal of the season. And it’s no more than he deserves. Nurul works his arse off, somehow channeling the spirit of Genki’s work ethic and Saruta’s ball skills and then sprinkling in some ancient Ninja magic. He is the Nine Carat Gold Ninja – is that a thing? I don’t know. If it isn’t it should be.

For readers who would like to make their own “Nine Karat Gold Ninja” flick book we have provided pictures.

 

 

1-1 at half time, and everyone walked out thanking god for Nine Carat Gold Ninjas. Everyone also knew Port and Ratchaburi were going to come out looking for more goals in the second. The second half started with Ratchaburi trying to take back the initiative with a few chances.

 

The Shook Ones Part II

The Kevin vs. Roller battle that had been raging all day was set off again by a good quick throw in from Pakorn down the left wing. Roller tussled with Kevin hacking at his ankles and pulling his shirt. Kevin held him off, then strong-armed him just enough to give himself some room. He fed the ball through Roller’s legs onto Suarez running in at the near post. Suarez thumped the ball in. On a day when players needed to stamp their authority on their part of the turf Kevin and Suarez delivered the perfect counter punch to their opposite numbers. Port up 2-1 and Roller left scratching his head as to how to stop a player who doesn’t fall down at any given opportunity. Kevin stood up and looked Roller square in the eyes and said “it’s my turn, I demand my respect, Give me my burn, or get slammed in your neck” (yes, he definitely said that, I heard it).

Before the next corner with Chutipol receiving treatment, Suarez wandered over to drink some of the water by Ratchaburi’s goal. He picked up two bottles, one for himself and one to throw into Zone B. It’s often small things that turn a crowd for or against a player. Kang Soo-il (10) had cupped his ear and was still getting boos every time he touched the ball. With Suarez’s gesture he managed to deprive Ratchaburi of some water, and give the crowd a laugh and one kid a souvenir of the game.

 

 

As more space opened up for Pakorn on the right Suarez picked him out twice with brilliant cross-field passes. One move did create a chance for Nurul, with the ball looping up in the air the whole crowd held its breath. Nurul tried an audacious Ninjaesque bicycle kick. Surely he can’t score such a goal? Yes, you’re right he couldn’t – it went wide proving he is a ninja but still human.

 

 

Always a bright sign the crowd saw Bodin (10) warming up on the sidelines. I thought Pakorn was coming off, but it was Suarez who would eventually make way for Bodin. Then Boskovic broke through the midfield and Port had a great chance. Even with two defenders chasing yards behind him and one coming across to meet him I would still have put money on Boskovic shooting and indeed scoring with such a good sight on goal. However Boskovic looked up and played the percentages. He calmly squared it to a wide open Suarez who sided footed it causally in to the back of the net making it 3-1 to Port. Time for everyone, bar Hockers, to relax and breathe a bit easier knowing a two goal cushion was in place.

 

 

As I was explaining to Hockers that a two goal lead with 20 minutes to go was something to be enjoyed with carefree happiness, he explained joy has no place in football ’til the final whistle. As I was mid speech extolling the joys of life, Ratchaburi hit the post, reminding everyone, bar Hockers, this lead could still fall apart. Chances continued coming ten a penny, but fortunately none were going in.

On ’72 Suarez exited to cheers from all zones and even Tim (just polite applause from me – Ed). Bodin entered into the fray with Ratchaburi having another pot shot at the Port goal, and Hockers tutted at the other 7,999 fans who had happily thought this match had been put to bed. Menezes who had created so many chances for Ratchaburi found Kang Soo-il to deliver his own dose of My Medicine to Port. 3-2 and the thought that Port might let a good lead slip away like so many 2017 games reared its ugly head.

At the restart the ref called Captains Sami and Rochela into the centre circle. He made them shake hands to try and foster a bit of peace in a tense game. As they were shaking hands I’m sure they were both shaking their heads too, thinking this game would be a lot more peaceful with a decent ref.

The last ten minutes of the game saw both teams slow down a bit, looking like two prize fighters who had been beating the hell out of each other for 127 rounds. Nurul had a good shout for a penalty on ’86. After re-watching it oddly the ultra-biased Port eyes had it spot on. 100% nailed-on penalty. As Port ran out winners today it will be forgotten pretty quickly, but had Ratchaburi scored a late equaliser this report would have been a 3000 word dissertation on the incident and the sad tale of how Port were robbed of 3 points. It wasn’t, we weren’t. The last minutes saw the Grandmaster Flash himself Terens Puhiri (28) make a two minute appearance. It would be good to see the Flash for the last 10 minutes of a game to see if he can convert his pace into some genuine chances for Port. I hope Jadet gets the message.

At the end of the day it was three that was the magic number for Port: 3 goals tonight, 3 points in the bag again, 3 wins in a row.

Maybe you can subtract it
You can call it your lucky partner
Maybe you can call it your adjective
But odd as it may be
Without my 1 and 2 where would there be my 3

 

Sandpit Man of the Match: Sergio Suarez

My 3 of the night would be Suarez, Nurul and Kevin. Siwakorn also had a great game, the defence held up well against a tough attack. As it’s man of the match not men of the match, I’ll have to go with Suarez. On a day when Port needed battlers he battled and delivered two goals. He also delivered a free bottle of water for Zone B – nice touch.

 

(Just in case you wondered, it’s the Kool Moe Dee’s wild wild west, not the Will Smith version, just so you check yourself before you wreck yourself.)